Case | HBS Case Collection | January 2001

Valuing Project Achieve

by Mihir A. Desai and Kathleen Luchs

Abstract

Project Achieve is a start-up providing information management solutions for schools. Its founders see a need for software both to manage the volumes of information necessary to administer a school and to connect parents, teachers, and students in a more effective way. Originally funded by angel investors, Project Achieve is raising its first formal round of financing and needs to establish a firm valuation. This case outlines the economics of the business and provides the necessary background figures to build the business model and arrive at a valuation. Explores quantitative considerations of venture financing: 1) value neutrality of equity issuance is illustrated; 2) cost of capital is computed from raw return series, and the appropriate discount rate is selected based on comparables; 3) decision trees are used to highlight the importance of probabilistic thinking; and (4) subscriber models are compared with annual free cash flow models both for determining financial value and as decision-making tools for business choices. In addition, provides a setting to discuss the more qualitative issues involved in choosing investors. In particular, the founders are comparing two options: an infusion of additional capital from current and new investors or an investment from a potential strategic partner. Each option has very different implications for the direction of the business going forward.

Keywords: Business Startups; Valuation; Venture Capital; Cost of Capital; Cash Flow; Forecasting and Prediction;

Citation:

Desai, Mihir A., and Kathleen Luchs. "Valuing Project Achieve." Harvard Business School Case 201-080, January 2001.